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Deepening Shadows

Author: 
Lady Nerevar

Provost Varuni Arvel

Classic Gascone. Fleeing to his chambers when things go poorly.

I'm sure that news of Lord Seht's condition has already made it to the streets. We have to move quickly to prevent a panic.

Vestige

What can I do?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Try to talk to Gascone. He clearly doesn't care what I have to say, but he might listen to an exodromal. You remain, you know… a novelty. No offense.

We can't assemble the congress without the chancellor.

Vestige

All right, I'll find him. Where should I look?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Check his rectory in the west wing of the Basilica. He hides in there sometimes to nurse a bruised ego, or write passive-aggressive memoranda.

I'll try to settle the apostles nerves. Honestly, my nerves could use some settling.

Vestige

I'll check Gascone's rectory.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Don't let Gascone wriggle out of this. He has a duty and an obligation. As do I.

Vestige

Are you all right?

Provost Varuni Arvel

What? Yes. Yes, I'll be fine. I just… this makes no sense.

Vestige

What makes no sense?

Provost Varuni Arvel

I don't understand how a shadow could take Lord Seht's place. Maybe this is some sort of test? But why test us?

The Clockwork Apostles haven't strayed. We build, and pray, and experiment just as the holy texts dictate.

Vestige

You don't think it's possible that Sotha Sil could be compromised?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Compromised? You make it sound as if Lord Seht suffers some kind of defect—like a crimped duct or a stripped bolt or something. We're talking about a divine being. Gods can't be compromised. They exist without flaws.

Right?

Vestige

It might not be that simple.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Do you know what the sermons say? Complexity belies the truth. The world rests on simple principles. Seht is the truth and the light. Understand the simple, and you understand the obscure.

I do appreciate your candor. Let's pick this up again later.

The Vestige headed for Gascone's office, but instead of the chancellor, found a tall, mostly naked woman that they identified as a Shrike Talon.

Shrike Talon

Where do you hide it, you worm...?

After defeating her, the Vestige found a note indicating that Gascone had gone into hiding. As they exited the room, Varuni approached.

Provost Varuni Arvel

There you are!

The factotums reported a strange energy signature in Gascone's rectory. Did you find anything odd in there?

Vestige

Yes. I found a creature in Gascone's office – some kind of Daedra. A pale woman by the looks of it.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Sounds like a Nocturnal Shrike. By the gears, how did that thing make it past our security coils?

Is Gascone…?

Vestige

Dead? I don't know yet. He left this note.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Huh. Not suspicious at all, is it? A sudden departure followed by a Daedra attack.

Vestige

We won't know until we find him.

Provost Varuni Arvel

You're right. I knew Gascone was a conceited slaggard, but consorting with Daedra? I pray it's not true.

We need to discover what he has that the Daedra covet. Proctor Luciana might be able to organize a search. She just left to disperse a crowd.

Vestige

All right, I'll go talk to Luciana.

Provost Varuni Arvel

I hope you catch Gascone soon. We need to know what he knows. Immediately.

Before that, though, the Vestige had a few more questions for the Provost.

Vestige

Does Gascone own birds?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Birds? Not that I'm aware of. He might be tinkering with some kind of avian automaton, but he rarely discusses that sort of thing with me.

Why do you ask?

Vestige

I saw black feathers all over his office.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Wait, feathers? From a live bird?

Vestige

Yes. Is that unusual?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Unprecedented. As far as I know, no living bird has ever set foo … er, wing, in Clockwork City. And even if they did, they wouldn't last long. Not a lot of worms crawling around here. They do eat worms, right?

Vestige

Some. Anyway, it looks like the end of that streak.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Fascinating. I've always wanted to see one. Under better circumstances, of course.

I'll notify our naturalists once we resolve this situation with Gascone.

Vestige

Do you have any idea where Gascone might have gone?

Provost Varuni Arvel

I'm afraid not. Gascone keeps his own council about what he does outside the basilica.

He spent a few days out in the Radius last month, but that's hardly unusual. Apostles conduct research outside the fortress all the time.

Vestige

Do you know what kind of things he tends to study?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Mathematics mostly. Predictive theory, spherical values, virtuous enumeration, that sort of thing.

He just published a dissertation on transdimensional calculation – making inferences on how numbers change during planar travel. Impressive work.

Vestige

How so?

Provost Varuni Arvel

The specificity of his calculations just boggles the mind. It's almost as if… it's almost as if he had access to a planar rift.

Oh no.

Vestige

The Shrike. You think he might be studying a Daedric portal?

Provost Varuni Arvel

I don't want to even consider it. Not until we have proof.

Armed with this worrying information, the Vestige headed out to find Proctor Luciana. She was located in the middle of a large square surrounded by other Apostles.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I'm not here to speculate on Lord Seht's whereabouts. I'm here to clear the square.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

If you want to panic, do so in your own homes – not in the public square. Now disperse, or be dispersed.

Get moving.

As the crowd left, the Vestige approached Pullo.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

If you're looking for Lord Seht, I don't know where he is. I will find out though. Count on it.

Vestige

I'm not here to discuss Sotha Sil. It's Gascone.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Gascone? What has he done now? I can't keep up with the complaints.

Vestige

He's missing.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Good. Maybe a fabricant ate him. Our luck has to change at some point.

Vestige

He might be consorting with Daedra. I found a Nocturnal Shrike in his office – and this odd note.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

So he finally graduated from corrupt hobbyist to professional villain. I'm almost relieved. Now we can finally give him what he deserves.

I assume you informed your sponsor, Provost Varuni?

Vestige

Yes. She wants you to organize a city-wide search so we can bring him in for questioning.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

A city-wide search? I can't spare enough apostles to search a broom closet.

Reports are flooding in from the Radius – stories about fanatics in black robes, pale-skinned Daedra, living shadows... we may have a full-scale invasion on our hands.

Vestige

Can you spare anything to help?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Hm. I have one asset I can spare. I know an artificer – Dalomar. He takes some getting used to, but you won't find a better tinkerer. He can help you find Gascone. Guaranteed.

Go talk to him. He set up shop near the tenements. Slag Town.

Vestige

Alright, I'll go talk to Dalomar.

The Vestige had some additional questions before heading out.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I knew that slag-addled piece of garbage, Gascone, would turn on us eventually. We should have dealt with this decades ago.

Vestige

What are your thoughts on this shadowy impostor?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I think we should destroy it – if only to convince people it can be destroyed.

I'm already getting reports from citizens convinced that their neighbor or their friend is actually a shadow. Another few weeks of this... It will not end well.

Vestige

The Shadow took some of Sotha Sil's power. If we destroy it, Sotha Sil may be diminished.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I'm prepared to live with that.

Vestige

You're all right with your god losing his power?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I made a vow to protect the Clockwork City and its inhabitants. If sacrifices have to be made, we should all be prepared to make them – Lord Seht included.

Vestige

Can I ask you about your... enhancements?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

You can ask.

Vestige

How do they work?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I have a crank in between my shoulder blades. One of my auxiliaries winds me up every morning before breakfast.

That's a joke.

Vestige

Do you even know how they work?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

In the same way as every other clockwork automata. A combination of engineering and sorcery that would take a century to explain.

The machinery keeps me alive. I know it's unsettling to look at, but no one ever said life in the Clockwork City was fair.

Vestige

How did you wind up in the Clockwork City?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

The same as you, I wager. A combination of heroism and coincidence.

I served Reman Cyrodiil as a battle mage during the Akaviri Troubles and the Valenwood annexation.

Vestige

So it happened during a battle?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Yes. I'm still not exactly sure what happened. During the Valenwood campaign, I locked staves with a Wood Elf spell-eater named Celedith. He was deceptively powerful. Wiry. Quick as a skeever-trap. I remember cleaving his staff with a summoned blade.

Vestige

And that sent you here?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Possibly. I think he was in the midst of a translocation spell when my sword made impact. There was an explosion and a bright light. When I woke, I was spayed out in the Radius... mangled.

Vestige

And Sotha Sil found you?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Yes. His factotums scooped up what was left of me and brought me here. He mended my wounds, and replaced what couldn't be mended with metal.

I asked him why. "Because one day you will shine a light," he said. And that was that.

Vestige

Is he always that vague?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Always.

Take my advice – if we manage to find the real Seht, don't expect him to embrace you as a friend. We're all cogs in his eyes. Valuable, beautiful even, but ultimately expendable. You either grow to accept that, or you turn out like Gascone.

Vestige

Like Gascone?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Yes. Bitter, sullen, probably traitorous, and if I get my way, dead.

Satisfied with the answers, the Vestige set out to find the aforementioned artificer.

Artificer Dalomar

Well, well... look at you, all full of fleshy-bits. Not a scrap of brass on you, is there? That won't do! That will not do!

I can fix you up. No bother at all! Maybe new feet. You need new feet, don't you?

Vestige

No thanks. I need to track a missing person. Luciana said you might have something that can help.

Artificer Dalomar

A missing person? How mysterious! You wouldn't be looking for Sotha Sil would you? I hear rumors you know? All kinds of rumors. Something about him turning into a crow? Or was it a frog. Never mind.

Luciana did you a favor. I have just the thing.

Vestige

Good. Can I see it?

The artificer shows the Vestige a small, mechanical nix-hound.

Artificer Dalomar

Whoa! Cool those cogs, you twitchy rascal!

This little scrapheap should do the trick... Meet Snuffler, the tracking Nix.

Keep close to Snuffler. But not too close, you know? He spooks easily. And when he spooks, someone typically gets stabbed. Just a friendly warning. Good luck!

The Vestige followed Snuffler into the wilderness, but the little guy lost Gascone's scent in the oily rivers of the wild. Luckily, a nearby vagrant was able to offer assistance.

Ralmir

What're you doing nosing around here with that ugly beast? Joneif and I haven't done nothing!

Vestige

I'm looking for Chancellor Gascone. Have you seen him?

Ralmir

Chancellor who?

Oh, you mean that brass-arsed fancy-boots that came running through here? Yeah, I seen him. Dragging his silly apostle skirts behind him like a broken wheel-chain. Seemed like he was in a hurry. Pretty suspicious if you ask me.

Vestige

My fabricant's lost the scent. Which way did he go?

Ralmir

Yeah, the grease mucks up fabricant snoots. That's why we stay down here. Wouldn't want the constables to see... Never mind!

Your man headed west. Should be some oily footprints about. Follow those tracks and you'll find your fancy-boots.

Instead of Gascone, however, the Vestige found a suspicious note. Before looking further, the Vestige pet their pretty adorable little companion.

Snuffler

<Snuffler emits a low, agitated chitter at your touch. It's impossible to tell whether it enjoys or detests the attention.>

Back on the trail, the Vestige encountered a wounded cultist slouched by Gascone's footprints.

Whispering Sorcerer

Who's...? Are you here to kill me? Too late. Your skeeving chancellor beat you to it.

The Vestige tried to question her for more information.

Whispering Sorcerer

Who are you? Another one of Vile's sniveling agents?

Gascone's gone. Now let me return to my mistress in peace...

Vestige

Did Gascone do this to you? Where is he?

Whispering Sorcerer

West. In the Ventral Terminus. He may have killed me, but he won't last long. He sealed his fate the moment he betrayed us.

There existed a covenant between your Gascone, Clavicus Vile, and my mistress, but he broke it. Now he will drown in blood.

Vestige

We will see about that.

Whispering Sorcerer

Night Mistress... I am coming.

The Vestige wouldn't let such an eager source die without questioning her further.

Vestige

Tell me about this covenant.

Whispering Sorcerer

Gascone vowed to bring us an artifact of great power. Now the artifact is gone. But don't worry. My mistress will wring the truth out of him soon. The Whispering Shadows will claim this artifact and you will all die. deafened by your own screams.

Vestige

Why did you mention Clavicus Vile earlier? Are his agents in the Clockwork City?

Whispering Sorcerer

You really have no idea, do you?

Daedric forces conspire in every dark corner – lurk behind every tree and stone. We spread like a plague, claiming more souls and territory with each passing hour! Sotha Sil's precious city will die at our hands.

Vestige

Enough. Answer my question, are Clavicus Vile's minions in the city

Whispering Sorcerer

Yes. Skaafin, and others. They served their purpose, and yet they linger. Confounding my mistress' plans and providing safe harbor to that toad, Gascone.

I will say no more!

The Vestige then headed west, eventually ending up near a locked entrance with an intercom.

Ventral Audiometer

What? Who's out there?

Begone, whoever you are! I sealed the door, and it shall remain sealed for as long as necessary!

Vestige

Chancellor Gascone? Varuni sent me to find you. We have some questions.

Ventral Audiometer

Questions? You think I'm foolish enough to let you in? No, this door will remain closed. I just need time to work this out – to smooth things over. Simple. Now, leave me be!

Vestige

What have you done? Did you make a deal with these shadow cultists?

Ventral Audiometer

Who I keep council with is none of your concern! You're just like Varuni. So uptight. So naive! If you value your life, you'll leave this place. Now.

Since the front gate was locked, the Vestige found a back way into the tunnels.

Chancellor Gascone

So, you found a way in after all. Impressive. Too bad it's a dead end. Unless you can smash through solid bedrock, you'll never find me.

He was right – a wall of rock blocked the way to him. Luckily, there was an inactive Imperfect nearby. As the Vestige powered up the automata, Gascone continued to narrate their progress.

Plotting something are we? Well, that rusty heap has been gathering dust for decades. You may as well just give up!

What... what have you done?

Slag that Imperfect, and kill the interloper! They're getting too close!

Oh, did your new toy wind down? What a shame! May as well give up!

You don't understand, I had to do this. You are ruining everything!

Enough! Re-route the charge gate and stop this thing!

Since the rock did not stop the Vestige, Gascone then summoned a skaafin to try to take them down.

Morag Goldtongue

You summon me again? I grow tired of this, mortal!

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Enough talk, you horn-capped buffoon! Just help me!

Of course, the Daedra was no match for the Vestige. After it was defeated, Gascone finally decided to talk.

How did you…? I yield! Just follow me outside, all right? I promise, I will explain everything.

The Vestige did so.

I know how this looks, but you have to understand. Those shadow cultists meant to slit my throat. I had to leave! My life was in danger, don't you see that?

Vestige

Start talking.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Fine. I made a bargain with Clavicus Vile. I know. Questionable. Just hear me out! All he wanted was a key. If I got it for him, he'd make me the ruler of Clockwork City.

Unfortunately, someone stole the key before I could deliver it.

Vestige

Who stole this key?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Some daft talking crows!

After that terrible business with the Shadow, I returned to my office to think. I arrived just in time to see one of those disgusting birds make off with the artifact! I panicked and ran here to hide.

Vestige

And what of the shadow impostor? Did you know Sotha Sil had been replaced?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

On my life, I did not! I wanted to heal the city, not destroy it! If I had known, I swear, I never would have gone through with it.

Vestige

Who are these cultists who were chasing you? Do they serve Clavicus Vile?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

No. They serve that Shadow creature … or someone worse.

Clavicus Vile never told me why he wanted the key, but I think he means to give it to those cultists' master. When they learned I lost the key, they grew furious and resolved to kill me.

Vestige

But these skaafin serve Clavicus Vile, don't they? If they knew you'd lost the key, why take you in?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Why kill me when they can bend me to their will? I'm in Vile's debt now, don't you see? The skaafin only protect me like dogs protect sheep—keeping me safe until shearing season. Until the slaughter.

Even so, I'd rather be a slave than a dead man.

Vestige

Tell me about this key.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

It's ornate. Covered in Daedric runes. One of the factotums found it in the Fundament and placed it in the salvage gallery for sorting. I snatched it up shortly thereafter.

I thought it was safe in my office… but those slagging crows!

Vestige

Crows?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Yes! Daft talking crows. They plucked it right out of my bureau and flew off with it. Those Whispering Shadows cultists will never find it now.

Vestige

You endangered everyone in Clockwork City.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Yes, my methods were… unconventional. I admit it. But you have to understand – I didn't do this for me! I did it for the City. Look around! Blood-thirsty fabricants, barren wastes, crumbling towers …. This is all Sotha Sil's fault!

Vestige

How is it Sotha Sil's fault?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

He abandoned us! While he tinkers away in the Centralis, we scrape by, eating nutriment paste and hiding from killer machines. Is that fair? Should we thank him for that?

My eyes are open. The people of Clockwork City deserve better.

Vestige

And you're the one to give it to them?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

I thought so. Look, bartering with Clavicus Vile was unwise, I know. Offering Daedric artifacts to dark Princes… it was a mistake.

Even so, I can be a useful ally. I know our enemy better than anyone. You need me!

The Vestige has two choices here, ether kill Gascone where he stands, or spare him, giving him up to the authorities.

If you choose to kill Gascone, the Vestige says the following before slaying him with one blow.

Vestige

You sold out the city to the Daedra. You don't deserve to live.

The Vestige then returns to the Brass Fortress, where they find Provost Varuni.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Still nothing on the security coils? Where could he have gone?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

He clearly fled the fortress – into the jaws of a fabricant, I hope.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Finally! I've been pacing a hole in the floor since you left. An engine can only idle for so long, you know?

Did Luciana find you? Did you find that skeevaton, Gascone?

Vestige

I killed him. He sold the city out to Clavicus Vile.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Gascone is dead? Well... he left us no choice, right? Good riddance, I suppose. I'll send some reclamation drones to collect his remains.

Now what's this about Clavicus Vile?

Vestige

Gascone promised to deliver a key to Clavicus Vile, but crows stole it before he had the chance.

Provost Varuni Arvel

The Clockwork City owes you a tremendous debt. Gascone's death is... was necessary to safeguard the people. Now we just have to follow the clues he left behind.

Please, take this. And my thanks.

If you choose to spare him instead, this happens.

Vestige

I believe you. We need your knowledge to stop the Shadow of Sotha Sil.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

You've made the right choice. Take me back to the Brass Fortress. I will admit to my crimes. Perhaps I can help you in due course.

Once we arrive at the basilica I can explain everything to Varuni. Maybe she'll understand.

Proctor Luciana arrives at that point, alongside two Clockwork Enforcers, to take the traitor in.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Chancellor Gascone!

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Oh no. Luciana, just let me expla-

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Shut that lying mouth of yours or I'll shut it for you. Permanently.

Thank you for digging this traitorous mongrel out of the Terminus. Varuni wants to speak with you back at the basilica.

When the Vestige gets back, they see the tail end of Varuni's questioning of Duscant.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

I told you what I know, Varuni. I'm trying to make this right.

The Vestige approaches Varuni about what they found out.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Welcome back. I was just having a little chat with former-chancellor Gascone. He insists he's told me everything, but I know him well enough to know he's still hiding something.

Honestly, I can barely stand to look at him.

Vestige

He may be holding out for a better deal. He definitely knows things about our enemies.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Typical Gascone… always trying to oil his way out when his plots fall apart.

What did he tell you? Any specific leads we can follow up on?

Vestige

Gascone promised to deliver a key to Clavicus Vile, but crows stole it before he had the chance.

Provost Varuni Arvel

The Congress of Calibration thanks you for your service. And on a personal note, I applaud your mercy. Gascone's an insufferable traitor, but he's still an apostle. Lord Seht always said we should take care of each other.

Take this, and my thanks.

Before asking Varuni about the next steps in saving the city, the Vestige chose to talk to Gascone a bit more. He did not have much to say.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Don't you have something more important to be doing than gawking?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Trading one cage for another. At least there are less Daedra in here.